'Create Communities' PlatformDesign Codes & Guides

Neighbourhood Design Code, Chesham

Working alongside neighbourhood planning experts Oneill Homer, we were commissioned by Chesham Town Council to help produce town wide Neighbourhood Development Orders (NDOs) and an accompanying Neighbourhood Design Code to enable the creation of sustainable and beautiful new homes across Chesham. The purpose of the development orders is to de-risk brownfield and infill development in the town centre as an alternative to building in the greenbelt on the edge of town. NDOs are a little used planning tool available to parish councils that pre permit development to designs agreed upon by the local community, they have the potential to be quietly revolutionary and could increase the supply of homes in a truly democratic way.

Our design work was underpinned by extensive co-design and consultation as we wanted to ensure that the proposals had both local popular support and were rooted in the unique character and history of Chesham. We ‘engaged wide’ through online surveys using our Create Communities mapping platform and ‘engaged deep’ in the form of one-to-one interviews, stalls at local community events, and design workshops. The online survey received 2,822 individual comments, providing a clear steer on local architectural preferences.

In total, we developed outline masterplans for 17 sites across the town with the potential to deliver up to 900 homes. The designs are underpinned by the Neighbourhood Design Code which includes a pattern book of house types, from small mews through to warehouse style flats, as well as details on everything from paving to planting and bins to bricks. Our masterplans and house types follow a simple plot-based approach, with standardised plot widths, allowing the designs to easily be applied to any new site in Chesham.

The NDOs, and accompanying Neighbourhood Plan, have been through the first statutory consultation round and should go to a local referendum in summer 2024, giving the residents of Chesham a final and definitive say over the proposals.

We have been supported by Civic Engineers and Artorus cost consultants in developing the proposals and funding has been provided by Locality.

Further information:

Client: Chesham Town Council

Timescale: 2022 – 2024